Payne v. Wal-Mart Stores East, L.P. (Lawyers Weekly No. 002-161-17, 6 pp.) (Mary Geiger Lewis, J.) 8:16-cv-02140; D.S.C.
Holding: According to store surveillance footage, about four minutes before plaintiff slipped and fell in a puddle of milk, a child dropped a carton of milk on the floor. Since plaintiff has made no showing that any store employee had notice of the milk on the floor prior to her fall, she has not shown that defendant had actual or constructive notice of the hazard that caused her fall.
The court grants defendant’s motion for summary judgment.
Plaintiff claims a jury could reasonably infer that the child who dropped the milk pulled it from the cooler and that placing heavy items like milk jugs within the reach of children creates a hazardous condition in and of itself. Further, plaintiff states when placing milk within the reach of children, defendant is required to guard against spills by means of warnings or instructions to parents or other guardians.
There is no evidence in the record showing the child who spilled the milk took it directly from the cooler or that the milk was indeed in reach of children. Plaintiff fails to present evidence of an industry standard and neglects to provide experts to establish displaying milk within the reach of children creates a dangerous condition. Instead, plaintiff merely advances speculation as to what a jury might consider a hazardous condition to be. Such speculation, wrought from a series of inferences, cannot defeat defendant’s motion for summary judgment.
Considering the Fourth Circuit has cited five minutes as an example of an insufficient time frame for establishing constructive notice, the court is unpersuaded by plaintiff’s argument that reasonable minds might differ on whether four minutes was enough to establish constructive notice.